Starred by Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Laura Marano, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Walken, The War with Grandpa is the hilarious and heart-warming movie we needed for fall. Scheduled to be released on October 9, 2020, the family comedy film directed by Tim Hill, tells the story of middle-school student Peter and his Grandpa Ed.
After Peter’s grandma dies, Grandpa Ed realizes that the home he built and where he lived happily for years with his late wife has become a little more than he can manage independently. After an incident involving a self-checkout machine at the market and a minor fender-bender, Ed’s daughter Sally insists that her father move in with her family full-time. However, the only space available is in the musty, dusty attic. Sally decides to gives Peter’s room to Ed, and that decision sparks a series of events, including hilarious pranks.
The film is based on the 1984 Robert Kimmel Smith’s middle-grade novel with the same name. “You had to make sure, just like the book did, that both characters are very sympathetic,” says screenwriter Matt Ember. “The boy is being displaced from his room, and any child would feel the classic child’s lament of ‘That’s not fair.’ And the grandfather is a widower, so built-in, you understand these people. And that matters. Even if they’re being a little callous toward one another, you understand where both are coming from at all times.”
“Every kid can understand the dread of too much time with grandparents, let alone they are coming and taking your room,” says producer Marvin Peart. “A lot of families are dealing with consolidating their family. Someone passes or gets too old to care for themselves, or both parents are working and need a babysitter that they can’t really afford—it makes sense for the grandparents to come and live with them.”
According to Marvin and Rosa Peart, they had one actor in mind to play charming grandfather Ed: Robert De Niro. “I felt that Robert De Niro was the only person to play Ed—to the point of, if we didn’t get him, there would not be a movie,” says Marvin Peart. “Some movies you can interplay and interchange. I felt that Robert De Niro was the perfect actor for the perfect role.”
The filmmakers revealed that De Niro’s presence helped attract impressive Academy Award-winning actors and acclaimed veterans from the worlds of drama and comedy for the key supporting roles. Among them, Christopher Walken signed on to play Ed’s best buddy Jerry. Also part of Ed’s circle is Cheech Marin, who plays the skirt-chasing Danny. The other adult roles went to Jane Seymour as Ed’s grocery store clerk acquaintance- turned-girlfriend, Diane; Uma Thurman as Ed’s daughter Sally; and Rob Riggle as Ed’s son-in-law Arthur. Playing Peter’s friends is T.J McGibbon, Isaac Kragten, and JulioCesar Chavez.
“It was as much fun if not even more fun than what you see when you’re watching the movie,” said Jane Seymour on an exclusive interview for HOLA! USA. “It was a terrific script. We were surrounded by amazing talent, and some of us always wanted to work with Mr. De Niro. We all got together, and it worked perfectly. The fireworks were going off in unpredictable ways, and that’s what made it magical.”
What makes The War with Grandpa so entertaining are the one-of-a-kind and endless pranks and pratfalls. “One of the first pranks, and probably my favorite, is when Peter replaces Ed’s shaving foam with plaster,” says Oakes Fegley. “I also drive a remote-control car with a loudspeaker and wake him up in the middle of the night.”
Unquestionably one of the film’s funniest set pieces is an intense dodgeball game between Peter and his friends and Ed and his pals at a local Sky Zone Trampoline Park. “It’s a dodgeball game in a trampoline bouncing house,” Cheech Marin says. “They brought us all down to the bouncing house to see how decrepit we really were and what we could actually do. I saw all these stuntmen doing backflips, bouncing off the walls, and said, ‘Someone’s going to get killed in this house!”
Marin said to HOLA! USA that fortunately, nobody got hurt. “Nobody got hurt, but they thought we were going to get hurt, so they called us in a week earlier, to see if we could actually do this because it’s just it’s fraught with difficulty, and I was terrified during that whole scene,” the actor revealed. “But De Niro and I got up there, and we were like ‘Yeah, we could do this,’” he joked. “I had a bad knee too — which I didn’t really tell anybody about. So I was afraid of landing. So, but I didn’t get hurt.”
“Everyone was being brave, but none of us wanted to be thought of as senior citizens — although that was clearly why we were given the role,” Seymour said to HOLA! USA. “And so, they said, ‘Do you have any injuries,’ and we don’t even know. I was convinced we were going to be pulled off there on a stretcher at some point,” she added.
“It’s terrifying. I had never been on a trampoline before,” Christopher Walken said. “This dodgeball scene we are playing, the kids are much better than we are. And it’s true—I am getting older. When I fall down, it’s much harder to get up.”
The scene of these legendary actors facing off against the kids while bouncing off the walls was incredible to behold, says Marvin Peart. “The most fun was watching Walken, Marin, Seymour, and De Niro on the trampoline-like 10-year old kids,” he says. “Watching De Niro jump on the trampoline in between takes, just keeping loose and limber—I thought I was seeing a mirage. At some point, I didn’t think it was even real. This is Robert De Niro, one of the most revered actors of all time, and he is out there jumping on a trampoline. It was a moment.”
According to the filmmakers and actors, The War with Grandpa isn’t a message movie per se; however, viewers would be able to find something valuable and uplifting. “It’s a comedy, so it is fun,” Fegley says. “But it has a moral behind it that you should respect your elders and that you don’t have all the time in the world with them so, you should have fun with them while you can.”
“This is a movie for the whole family—Grandma, Grandpa, parents, kids. You don’t have to worry about covering your kid’s eyes. You can just sit back and enjoy,” said Rosa Peart.